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Thousand Years Waiting, a Unique Transpacific Collaboration, to Be Performed at Bard College on Monday, March 6 New Play from Bard Professor Chiori Miyagawa Features a Unique Perspective on Japanese and American Theater with Storytelling, Dance, and Puppetry

Darren O'Sullivan
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— On Monday, March 6, Bard College will host a new play, Thousand Years Waiting, by Chiori Miyagawa, associate professor of theater at Bard. The play, which features the rare art of traditional Japanese Otome Bunraku, portrays three simultaneous realities: present-day New York City, Japan circa 1000, and inside The Tale of Genji—the world’s first novel. This unique collaboration among three key women artists—a Japanese-American playwright, an expatriate Japanese director, and a traditional artist from Japan—will make theatrical history. Thousand Years Waiting is sponsored by Bard’s Theater Program, Bard in China, Voice and Vision, and Crossing Jamaica Avenue, with support from the Freeman Undergraduate Asian Studies Initiative. The performance takes place at 6 p.m. in the Richard B. Fisher Center’s Resnick Studio. Seating is limited and reservations are strongly recommended. To reserve seats, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900. Thousand Years Waiting, produced by Crossing Jamaica Avenue, features original music by Bruce Odland, dramaturgy by Debra Cardona, direction and choreography by Sonoko Kawahara, with traditional Japanese Otome Bunraku puppet artist Masaya Kiritake and professional American actors Margie Douglas, Sophia Skiles, and Anna Wilson. Otome Bunraku is an early 20th-century offshoot of the 17th-century Bunraku Puppet Theater. This form emerged because women were traditionally not allowed to perform the traditional form. In Otome (female) Bunraku , a single woman performer manipulates a four-foot puppet, instead of Bunraku’s traditionally sanctioned three-man method of operation. The result is a more sensual and intimate movement of the puppet. Today, Otome Bunraku is a near-extinct art form; only three women in the world perform it professionally. This will be the first time that an Otome Bunraku artist performs in an American play. Kiritake, a master puppeteer, will give a talk following the presentation, translated by Professor Gustav Heldt from the Asian Studies Program at Bard College. Thousand Years Waiting can be seen in full production at Performance Space 122 in New York City, from February 23 through March 12, as a coproduction of Crossing Jamaica Avenue, a theater company known for infusing contemporary American sensibilities with traditional Eastern aesthetics. For performance schedule and tickets, visit For more information on the production and Crossing Jamaica Avenue, visit Chiori Miyagawa’s plays have been seen Off-Broadway at Vineyard Theater (America Dreaming, a collaboration with composer Tan Dun and director Michael Mayer), New York Theatre Workshop (Nothing Forever, a collaboration with lyricist Mark Campbell and composer Fabian Obispo), and Women’s Project (Antigone Project, a collaboration with four other women playwrights: Lynn Nottage, Karen Hartman, Tanya Barfield, and Caridad Svich); at alternative spaces such as Soho Rep, HERE, and PS122; and regional theaters such as Dallas Theatre Center and Madison Repertory Theatre. She is a recipient of many grants and fellowships, including a New York Foundation for the Arts Playwriting Fellowship, McKnight Playwriting Fellowship, Van Lier Playwriting Fellowship, and EST/Alfred P. Sloan Science and Technology Commission (Comet Hunter, a collaboration with astronomer Dr. James Lattis). Six of her plays have been published in different anthologies. Sonoko Kawahara (director /choreographer/puppetry conception) was formerly an actor who appeared in major theater productions in Japan. In New York, she has been developing pieces that integrate text, music, dance, and visual elements, including First Line at Women’s Project & Productions and Canon in 3D Major at Dance Theater Workshop and HERE. Currently she is developing Rose Project for the Music-Theatre Group, inspired by the legend of Tokyo Rose, with composer Diedre Murray. She has directed various art forms, including Japanese swordplay for Deadly She-Wolf by Fred Ho and Ruth Margraff at Japan Society; Chinese opera for Queen Says Farewell at Connelly Theatre; Noh tradition for The Cuchulain Cycle, by W. B. Yeats, for Fordham University; and has directed at many other venues such as La MaMa and Kennedy Center. She has been supported by Rockefeller Foundation’s MAP Grants, Japan Foundation, The Fund for Women Artists, and directing fellowships from New York Theatre Workshop and The Drama League. Masaya Kiritake (Otome Buraku dancer/puppeteer) was awarded the master name for Otome Bunraku in 2004 (Masaya Kiritake; prior to this, she performed as Manami Kimura). The same year she received an Asian Cultural Council Fellowship and met director Kawahara during her residency in New York. She makes her Joruri dolls (a highly specialized type of puppets for Japanese traditional Bunraku performance) with the help of Master Yuragame III. She was trained by Master Mitsuko Yoshida and later by Master Masako Kiritake in the Bunraku doll operation and by Master Kanjiro Fujima in Japanese traditional dance. Today she is an independent performer and dances with her handmade Joruri dolls in various venues. Recently she danced with her Joruri doll to the music of a classical orchestra, and tsugaru-shamisen (a traditional Japanese three-stringed instrument), and wadaiko (Japanese drums). Bruce Odland (composer) is a sound artist, composer, producer, and a major innovator in the developing field of sound. He spent some years as director of sound and music at the Denver Center, where he headed a major study of all aspects of theater sound, developing new speakers, notational systems, sound-design methods, and training American sound designers. In theater, he has worked with major artists, including Peter Sellars, JoAnne Akailitis, Robert Woodruff, André Gregory, performance artist Laurie Anderson, and for productions at major festivals in the United States, Europe, and Japan.


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This event was last updated on 03-06-2006